Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Cove - Cyan Jones

Sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Publisher: Granta Books

Copyright: Cynan Jones, 2016

ISBN: 978-1847088819

Format: Paperback, 99pp

Genre:  General Fiction

Rating: 4/5

Summed up in a few words
Memory. Survival. Ocean. Misfortune.

First Impressions
I had heard such great things about this book and I was eager to read it when it arrived. Thank you to Natalie at Granta Books for sending me a review copy. Cove is such a small piece, but it makes such an impact. Cynan Jones has a personal and unique writing style that uses emotion, nature and humanity to craft a distinct and intriguing story of a man who is injured and lost at sea.

Book Synopsis
Out at sea, in a sudden storm, a man is struck by lightening. When he wakes, injured and adrift on a kayak, his memory of who he is and how he came to be there is all but shattered. Now he must pit himself against the pain and rely on his instincts to get back to shore, and to the woman he dimly senses waiting for his return.

With its taut narrative and its visceral portrait of a man locked in an uneven struggle with the forces of nature, this is a powerful new work from one of the most distinctive voices in British fiction.

My Thoughts
In Cove we follow the experience of a fisherman who is struck by lightening whilst out on the sea in his kayak. It was a great decision by Jones to use a blend of the second/third person perspectives to narrate his journey through this hell, it gave the reader a chilling and raw reading experience. The fisherman is injured badly, with loss of an arm and severe burns imprisoning him inside the kayak. The struggle for survival and reaching the shore is the core plot in Cove and CJ documents the experience with the man's thoughts, emotions and physical pain.

The other main aspect of the story is the fact that the fisherman is haunted by fractured and distant memories of his life and his pregnant love. Both the present and the past bleeding into each other and urging him to stay alive and reach land. Cove is a mesmerising and deeply moving story and I thought Jones did a superb job making it emotional, rigorous and primal. The writing style was unique to me, I have not had the chance to check out Cynan Jones' work before and I would happily return to his work in the future.

My only fault with this book was the ending, I cannot go into too much detail here but let's just say I wanted the story to continue much further than it did. Cove is very brief, under 100 pages, so you can easily read it in one sitting, what I really liked about this book was that you can re-read it plenty of times and it will still have a different feel and impact on you as you work out more and more of what Jones is really saying.

The stripped down nature of this book highlights how much injury the human body can take and how your life can really change in a flash. The main themes were simplistic but also powerful including survival, family and nature. The atmosphere was generally pain, confusion and desperation, but also of wanting to live and see his wife and child. The fisherman's struggle was deep and I found myself invested in him and the intensely difficult journey to the shore.

Overall, I was blown away by the fact that a book so small could contain such a deeply moving story. I thought Jones used great language and concepts to bring the story of the injured fisherman to us and I encourage everyone to pick up Cove and see what you think to the reading experience. I mention again that I didn't really feel satisfied with the ending, I wanted more to go on, but that is a personal opinion and one that won't affect your enjoyment of the same book. 

Pick up a copy of Cove here: Amazon UK/Amazon US/Goodreads 

About the Author: Cynan Jones is the author of the novels The Long Dry (winner of a Betty Trask Award); Everything I found on the Beach; Bird, Blood, Snow; and The Dig, which was shortlisted for the Sunday Times/EFG Short Story Award, longlisted for the Warwick Prize, and won the Wales Book of the Year Fiction Prize, and the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize. He lives in Wales. (Official Bio)

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